The Art of The Budget Cut

Today over at Keeping Her Cool, Colleen responds to public school budget cuts that are taking art education out of school. Click HERE to read.

What Is Happening:

With school districts across the country facing significant budget cuts, schools are responding with a significant decrease in or elimination of arts education.

Why It Matters:

This brings up a vital debate on what constitutes an education. And who decides? What essential skills does a child need in order to be ‘educated’? What is the best way to obtain those skills?

Said David J. Skorton, president of Cornell University’ on the impact of arts in education: “They keep and convey our cultural heritage while opening us up to other societies and civilizations around the globe. They help us explore what it means to be human, including both the ethical and aesthetic dimensions. If science and technology help us to answer questions of ‘what’ and ‘how,’ the arts and humanities give us ways to confront the intangible, to contemplate the ‘why,’ to imagine, to create. If ever there were a time to nurture those skills in our young people, it is now, when our nation’s future may depend on our creativity and our ability to understand and appreciate the cultures around the world as much as on our proficiency in reading and math.”

Art also fosters and helps to develop problem solving skills, one of the most important proficiencies in preparation for college and real-world living.

What You Can Do:

Volunteer. As Colleen points out, lacking the funding for traditional art classes, some schools are setting up programs and schedules to get parents involved and keep the arts alive in school. Help out wherever you can.

Art Adventure is a program through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that trains volunteers to teach children about select pieces of art within the MIA’s collection. At the end of the term, the children visit the museum and see the works in ‘real life.’ (As a personal sidebar, my mother used to teach this when I was in elementary school and to this day Paul Signac’s “Blessing of The Tuna Fleet” is one of my all-time favorite works.) Find out more about Art Adventure HERE.

To see how other communities nationwide (including Minneapolis) are responding to arts budget cuts with grass roots initiatives, click HERE.

Be Heard, Get Involved. You have a voice and a vote. Start with the PTA and school board meetings. To get a few statistics and resources for your back pocket, check out the Keep Arts In Schools website. Read up and find out how you can be a part of the movement to save arts education.

Promote Art At Home. We can’t be 100% reliant upon the school system to give our children everything they will need to thrive as individuals. There is a lot you can do as a parent to foster your children’s appreciation for art. Check out the free museum passes at your local library, look into the free and low-cost family art classes through community ed and area museums, spend $10 at Michael’s and do a Saturday art project at home, get books on artists from the library, tour the finest museums of the world with Google Art Project. If you love art and see it as an important part of a life well lived, your kids will do the same.

How do you promote art in your family, in your child’s school, or in your community?